Our Family Caravan Holiday At Kelling Heath In North Norfolk.

IMG_6631

If I was going to run my own travel awards, with categories such as most peaceful caravan location, comfiest bed and best use of fog, out of the three sites we have visited so far, Kelling Heath Holiday Park would definitely sweep the board.

Many people I know had already stayed there so when I booked a trip for my parents and Freya and I (Mark could only come for a day because he had to work) I was confident that it would be good. However, this is the first time I’ve come back from a break with Freya without feeling like I need another holiday on my own to recover.

Some of that is because she is getting older but I also liked the fact that there wasn’t a million different activities for her (and me) to go along to all day and night. She often had to make her own entertainment and while the weather meant it was mostly indoors, I think, had it been warmer (and we could see further than the end of the road), we would have spent a lot more time exploring outside. It was April, though, so you have to take what you can get.

IMG_3086
Meeting the neighbours

That’s not to say there weren’t things to do, there’s lots. We just didn’t take advantage of all of them. We visited several of the outdoor play areas where Freya made some lovely new friends, there’s also an indoor area with a small soft play section and amusements.

IMG_3252
Big win on the 2p machine one night – 12p!

Each day there were scheduled events; one day Freya had her face painted and another she made a mosaic (both cost extra). The only evening we went out was to see the children’s entertainer Stevie Spud who was absolutely fantastic. He had Freya roaring with laughter and she was thrilled when he invited her up to help with a magic trick. He also let her have a go at plate spinning at the end. A highlight for her.

IMG_6601

IMG_6570

We didn’t go along to any of the outside Acorn Events, which include things such as Kelling Explorers (welly walks, woodland rambles, pond dipping etc) for children aged three – seven. We did make use of the indoor swimming pool (there’s an outdoor one too, although it’s not open in April). I also used the fantastic gym. And all of that is before you even get to the 300 acres of woodland and heathland to explore on your own (there’s bike hire too, if you don’t fancy walking).

So while there are definitely things to do, it seemed less manic than we have been used to on other holidays. I felt like it was a chance to slow down and just breathe.

IMG_6600

We stayed in a six-person caravan (two bedrooms plus a sofa bed, if needed) and it was really lovely. There are also lodges and it’s a touring site. Set among the trees, our caravan was so peaceful. Freya spotted deer out of the window on the first morning and there were rabbits and squirrels along with various birds. I’m sure I heard an owl one evening too. It was spotlessly clean and lovely and warm, thanks to the central heating.

 

While there is an on-site bar and restaurant plus a pizza place, we didn’t make use of it – apart from when Mark came to visit and he and I went for lunch (my cheese toastie was delicious). We either ate while we were out or we used the things we brought with us – and the caravan had a great oven along with a microwave – but we did make use of the shop, which stocks some great products, including a free-from section.

IMG_6623
Main square.

The camp is also ideally situated for visiting other places. We did a couple of day trips, including taking the North Norfolk Railway steam train, which stops at the site, to Sheringham. I’m not sure who was more excited about this, my dad or Freya. He said it took him back to the 1950s when his family used to get a steam train once a year to the beach. It was too rough to go to the beach but we enjoyed exploring the town – and it’s never too cold for ice cream.

IMG_6560

IMG_3107

IMG_3113

IMG_3127

We are already planning a return trip. Hopefully the weather will be better – although it could have been a lot worse this time (they were predicting snow at one point) so I won’t complain.

IMG_6599
Mark and I walked to the viewing area. The sea is out there. Somewhere.
IMG_3185
This spider had a busy night.
IMG_3183
Did I mention it was foggy?
You can find out more about the site, the types of accommodation on offer and what’s on here.
“Untold
CulturedKids

 

Advertisements

Norfolk Adventures: Oxburgh Hall.

IMG_2146
It was a grey old day so the photos look a bit dreary, sorry!

“A family home, not a fortress,” is the quote that popped into my head as I caught sight of Oxburgh Hall for the first time – and, even with its moat and grand-looking gatehouse, it definitely felt welcoming.

In fact, I actually thought it looked rather romantic; in a sort of Gothic, wild on the (in this case very flat) moors, Healthcliff kind of way (I imagine in the summer when they sky is blue and the flowerbeds are blooming with colour, it would be more Mills and Boon).

Surrounded by countryside in the village of Oxborough, the hall is about an hour’s drive from Norwich. We decided to make a family trip with Mark’s parents who were visiting for the weekend (and who have National Trust memberships).

IMG_2165

History.

Built by rising courtier Sir Edmund Bedingfield in about 1482 – and still lived in by his descendants today – it is, apparently, a “fine example of a late medieval, inward-facing great house“. There’s a fantastic timeline history here, which is well worth a read whether you’re planning to visit or not.

The family have had some turbulent times and very mixed fortunes over the many years since the late 15th Century. At several points the house was neglected, with periods of near dereliction. It was rebuilt after a terrible fire during the Civil War and also survived the threat of demolition in the 1950s. In 1952, Lady Bedingfield gave the hall to the National Trust and it is now, thankfully, protected. It is currently undergoing more restoration work after the collapse of one of the courtyard windows in 2016 identified further problems but it is still open to the public.

IMG_2154

What can you see?

Much of the remodelling we can see today is the work of the Victorian 6th Baronet, Sir Henry Bedingfield, and his wife Margaret Paston.

Highlights include the King’s Room, where Henry VII stayed in 1487, embroidered hangings worked by Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick (more about them here), the Queen’s Room, the library and the view from the roof.

IMG_6170 2

IMG_6152
There is also a much talked about cramped priest hole. It was enough to give the claustrophobic in me nightmares but I know it was a lifesaver in the late 16th century when, in upholding their Catholic faith, the Bedingfelds suffered. The small space, which would have been unlit at the time, was a refuge for a Catholic priest in the event of Oxburgh being searched. One of the guide’s said they could be in there for weeks at a time.

Let’s not forget outside, either. There are about 70 acres, including a walled garden, woodland walks and a den building area.

IMG_2215
View from the roof.

For children.

I really like the way the National Trust caters for their younger visitors. There was a picture treasure hunt for Freya to enjoy inside but also a conservationist set up in one of the rooms (not sure if this was just for March) who explained his job and then let her have a go at cataloguing a tea cup. She was really into it and even drew the pattern on the cup (proud mum moment).

IMG_6142

Freya is a proper people person and loves chatting to anyone who will standstill long enough to hear her out. I do think she sees the guides as a captive audience because we almost have to drag her away – luckily they were all very kind at Oxburgh and happy to indulge her (even when it was about the spaghetti bolognaise she had for tea the night before. Sorry!).

IMG_6157

Outside there were also work sheets and a bug hunt to enjoy as we strolled around the gardens and made the walk to the chapel in the grounds, which was also open to explore. Mark was also particularly keen to see the pet cemetery (too much Stephen King, maybe?).

My favourite thing.

I loved exploring inside but there was a definite “ooooh” when I spotted the reflection of the hall in the moat. I walked all the way round, taking photos at various points.

IMG_2229

IMG_2233

Entrance fee.

At the time of our trip, standard adult entrance was £6.10 (without GiftAid). You can find full details here.

My Top Tip: Don’t forget to visit the church of St John, which you can get to via the hall car park. I’ll be sharing some photos of it for My Sunday Photo this week so please pop back, if you’re interested.

CulturedKids
Fifi and Hop

Norfolk Adventures: Felbrigg Hall.

felbrigg hall.jpeg

Quite often when I visit an historic home I admire the grandeur on display, ponder how much it costs to heat in the winter and perhaps imagine myself flouncing up a sweeping staircase in a long silk dress but very rarely do I ever think “Yes, I could live here”.

I’m not sure what it is about Felbrigg Hall because it’s as opulent and impressive as the others but as soon as I entered I just felt…welcome.

IMG_3420

It possibly had something to do with the volunteers, who were all so friendly, and the fact that there’s a lovely treasure hunt-style activity for children involving a magnifying glass and a photo book but I think it’s more to do with the feel of the place.

It’s just homely. I felt like I could sit in the library and read a book in my PJs (not when it’s open to the public) or happily enjoy a family Christmas dinner in the dining room (hopefully cooked by someone else).

FullSizeRender 14 2

The 17th century house and the estate were left to the National Trust following the death of the ‘last squire’, biographer and historian Robert Ketton-Cremer, in 1969.

A descendent of the Wyndham/Windham family, who owned Felbrigg for some 500 years, he inherited the house on the death of his father in 1933. There’s a well written history of the hall and some of its fascinating past inhabitants here.

I was quite taken by the tales of William ‘Mad’ Windham (1840 – 1866) who apparently had a bit of a thing for uniforms. Not only did he dress up as a train guard at local stations, which caused a few problems, he also presented himself as a policeman and ‘patrolled’ in London. He seems to have remained quite the character – in later life even buying himself a coach and pinching customers from established routes by offering free lifts between Norwich and Cromer.

He was far from the only intriguing person attached to the house and it was fascinating to discover more as we explored.

There was some controversy (link to a story in The Guardian) surrounding Felbrigg earlier this year but when we visited last month, on a day that started slightly damp, all seemed well.

What can you do there?

IMG_3446 2.jpeg

FullSizeRender 24

Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see at Felbrigg and Freya loved trying to match the photographs to the various rooms. You can tour downstairs and upstairs rooms, including the great hall, with its stunning stained glass, dining room, lovely library and several bedrooms, including the Chinese Room with wallpaper hand painted in China (which required a costly specialist to put up).

IMG_3442

IMG_3434

We stopped for a bite to eat in the cafe before heading outside to the wonderful walled garden. Because our party had a variety of different ages we only got to see a small section of the garden but what I did see was stunning (my camera was very happy).

FullSizeRender 28 2

There is a fabulous play area for smaller visitors, which includes sandpits to dig in, miniature wheel barrows, forks and what I think might be a willow house with a tree stump table and small wooden benches (here’s Mark enjoying it).

IMG_3364

Should you want to go a bit further afield, the estate also has 520 acres of woods, with rolling parkland, a lake and buggy-friendly paths.

What did we think?

Our trip included four generations and they all loved it. Freya was the one I was most worried about but almost as soon as we arrived (and she found some hobby horses to trot around on) she was happy. She loved exploring inside and outside too (as we all did). A great family adventure.

IMG_3414.jpeg

How much does it cost?

A standard charge for an adult (without gift aid) for the whole property is £10.40 and £5.50 for a child. You can also just pay for the gardens and there is a family ticket available. Full details here. Don’t forget to check opening times before you go.

CulturedKids
Untold Morsels

Wanderlust Kids